If you have a loved one who is gaining years or is dealing with a major health issue or disability, there may come a time when you need to consider hospice or assisted living care. Decisions regarding these types of care are never easy and often come at bad times. It’s crucial that you consider the options before they are necessary. It’s also crucial that you meet with a Los Angeles estate planning lawyer who can help you plan for this course of action. Having a proper plan saves you the stress of having to figure things out on the spot. You’ll also be able to take better advantage of different government-assistance programs.
Here’s what you need to know about planning for hospice or assisted living care:
Hospice vs. Assisted Living
Hospice is a form of care meant for people at any age who face a life-shortening illness. The focus of hospice care is providing high quality pain relief, and in many cases, is a way for people to finish their lives in peace and comfort. Hospice care is not the same as throwing in the towel on someone’s life: It’s more about focusing on comfort instead of a large fight with the disease or injury.
Hospice care is often provided at home, but also available at long-term care facilities like nursing homes, hospitals, and dedicated hospice centers. This kind of care is a team effort between doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, and members of the clergy – all working with a point person, typically a family member, to make decisions about care.
The cost of hospice can vary depending on the individual’s need. Some insurance plans will cover the entire cost of hospice care while others will only pay a portion. There are also options to help pay for hospice care through Medicaid and/or Medicare.
Assisted Living Care
Assisted Living is meant more for adults whose independence is in decline. These people need an extra hand in areas that are difficult to manage independently. This help covers things like cooking and eating, personal hygiene, getting dressed, medicine, transportation, and even socializing.
Assisted living can also take place at home or in dedicated facilities. Some of these places offer access to a community of peers with activities and more. Other facilities are focused more on an individual experience. Depending on the person’s needs, there may or may not need to be a point person to help with decisions, although family members are encouraged to participate.
Assisted living costs also vary, but are often less expensive than hospice care. Families usually pay for care by cashing out savings or investments. There are some life insurance plans that help pay for these costs as well. You can also seek some relief from Medicaid or Veteran benefits to manage costs.
Paying for Hospice or Assisted Living Care
While taking care of a loved one is often a priority, the associated costs might be an unintentional burden on families. Luckily, there are some programs to help ease the cost. Your Los Angeles estate planning attorney will be able to help you not only navigate these different programs, but also help you plan in such a way to get your best possible return.
Some people will have access to things like life insurance and Veteran’s benefits, but Medicaid, Medi-Cal, and Social Security are by far the most popular programs in the Los Angeles area.
Medicaid is a federal program that helps provide health coverage to millions of people across the country. While the program is administered by the state, it is jointly funded by other states and the federal government. Medicaid is different from Medicare in that it offers coverage for things like nursing home services.
Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid and is primarily meant for low-income individuals. It covers similar things as other insurance programs, but can come at low or no cost to California residents.
Social Security is also an insurance program, but works in a different way from Medicaid or Medi-Cal. Workers pay into the Social Security program through payroll withholdings where they work. When a person reaches a certain age, they can access their social security benefits in the form of monthly payments.
You Need A Strategy
Many people make the mistake of waiting until they need these programs before actually thinking about how to use these programs. This results in not getting full use of the program and missing out on a number of benefits. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you come up with a strategy to fully use these benefits.
Let’s take social security, for example. You can start drawing benefits at age 62, but the total amount you’ll receive is reduced by about 30-percent. If you wait a little longer, there is a lower amount reduced from your payments. If you wait until age 67, you not only get the full amount of your benefit, but also earn delayed retirement credits that can increase your monthly payout.
In some cases, you may need access to your social security benefits earlier than you’d otherwise like. An estate planning attorney can help make other elements of your estate work for you to potentially provide enough money so you can hold out on drawing from Social Security. Even waiting a year can increase your payout a great deal!
Medi-Cal can also be complicated and has various requirements for eligibility, including income and owned assets. Many people imagine that they can simply transfer any major assets out of their name to a family member and appear to have a lower net-worth. The challenge here is that the government goes back several years to determine if you’re eligible. Transferring assets at the wrong time could mean missing out access to the program.
Getting the most out of these programs means understanding how they work, how to qualify, and how to apply. You also need a well-planned strategy in place long before you actually start using them.
An Estate Plan is More Than Just Finances
Your Los Angeles estate planning lawyer can help you plan to get the most from government programs and make the most of your overall estate. This includes everything from planning your finances to help cover the cost for care to making sure your legacy continues after you’re gone.
An estate planning lawyer will help you draft a will, determine if you can benefit from creating different trusts, and create power of attorney documents. These elements of your estate ensure that your final wishes are carried out the way you want. It’s crucial to create these things before entering hospice or assisted living care so that your mind is clear and you can make the best decisions.
Don’t get caught off guard with the need for specialized care! Schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles estate planning attorney today. You can never start planning too early to secure and protect your legacy while ensuring you get the proper care when you need it.